In Montgomery County, N.C., the Christmas rush at the Town of Star’s post office begins on Dec. 1. When Postmaster Angela Johnson opens the doors at 8:30 a.m., she’s likely to find folks lined up…for a block or two.
Local postal patrons want to be among the very first to get their Christmas cards and letters hand-stamped with Star’s new holiday pictorial postmark.
Star’s holiday postmark tradition began in 1987. It has been honored by the United States Postal Service (USPS), as an official designation “Christmas Town.”
Johnson stated that the Star post office typically receives approximately 24,000 requests for the special stamp during Christmas season. However, she may need to recruit volunteers to handle the expected increase in volume.
Star’s status as a “Christmas treat”North Carolina was the subject of a five page feature article and photo spread in Our State magazine’s December 2021 issue. Each issue of Our State magazine is read by 1,117,000 people, according to the state.
Written by Trudy Haywood Saunders of Mount Gilead (another town in Montgomery County), the Our State story effectively conveys that a down-homey Christmas spirit is part of Star’s DNA. Mayor Mary Hughes O’Brien “sets the tone at the top.”
Star is located in the middle North Carolina. Truly, it is the geographic center of North Carolina, and there’s a stone marker and plaque to prove it. Johnson explained to Saunders that people will travel for a Christmas postmark stamp.
All roads lead towards Star. It’s about 50 miles south of Greensboro, 70 miles east of Charlotte and 85 miles west of Raleigh.
Star’s little post office is located on Main Street, and it’s open Monday-Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed for lunch between noon and 1 p.m. Saturday hours are 8:30 a.m. to noon.
The town is home for approximately 756 residents. However, the Star zipcode of 27356 serves approximately 3,205 customers in Montgomery and Moore Counties.
USPS now has the following: 104 “Christmas Towns” across America, ranging from A to W – Angels Camp, Calif., to Wiseman, Ariz.
Other Star-named towns can be found in Idaho, Mississippi, and Texas. A spokesperson for USPS stated that Star, N.C. is unique because it offers the best in customer service. “a different cancellation every year, creating a high demand among collectors. Artists compete to have their drawing selected as the winning design.”
Star started out as Hunsucker’s Store. Historian Tony L. Crumbley of Charlotte said that Martin Hunsucker established a trading post, called Hunsucker’s Store, in 1858. The community was also named after it.
“Following the Civil War,”Crumbley said: “Angus Leach found his way to Hunsucker’s Store. He later married Deborah Hunsucker and became associated with his father-in-law (Martin Hunsucker) in business enterprises.”
Angus Leach was a postmaster in 1866. “weary of writing the long name ‘Hunsucker’s Store’ over and over again on letters and post office records. Leach lobbied postal officials to rename the town. He said: ‘Let’s name her Star and let her shine.’”
“The post office department officials approved the change of name and Star became a reality on Feb. 11, 1887,”Crumbley stated.
“If it was possible for a man to be the nucleus of a town that grew up around him, then Angus Leach was that man. His endeavors, his business success and his generosity run like a thread through the early history of this town,”Crumbley ended.